Friday, August 27, 2010

I Choose You ... PikaJew!

From this week's parshah,
(17) You have selected the Lord this day, to be your God, and to walk in His ways, and to observe His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and to obey Him. (18) And the Lord has selected you this day to be His treasured people, as He spoke to you, and so that you shall observe all His commandments.
I wrote about this back in 2007, and it's interesting because I feel much the same about this particular section of the parshah as I did then. I have bolded the sections "You have selected HaShem this day" and "HaShem has selected you this day," because, for me, as a convert, this is incredibly poignant, especially during this super special month of Elul (renewal, reflection, reconsideration). As someone who literally chose Judaism and HaShem, these words sing to me.

The interesting this is that clearly, HaShem chose me first (for converts, the understanding is that you are born with a Jewish neshama and that it takes time for the neshama to sort of, crawl out -- like "Alien," but less creepy), and I chose to choose HaShem, embracing the agressive neshama within. However, the fact that it says "this day" suggests something further. A constant, perpetual, renewing choice. Every day I wake up, I choose HaShem, I choose Judaism. I choose to say my morning blessings, to cover my hair, to put on a nice tzniut (modest) outfit, to eat kosher and say my blessings over foods, to treat others in the way of a mensch, etc. The way this is worded -- and I think everything in the Torah is worded so very precisely, with a specific, basic meaning -- suggests that we must choose to be Jews every day, chose to carry ourselves in a certain way, and that, in turn, HaShem chooses us back.

All of that being said, it's a weird choice to make daily. I quipped in 2007 that "I'm sure I'm not the first to admit that the compelling pull of Judaism is as indescribable as is the idea of Noah's flood." That, I'm sure, makes sense to many of you. It is almost as if ... even if I would wake up tomorrow and say, "I'm done, no more Judaism for me," the pull would be so intense that I wouldn't be able to walk away, no matter how hard I would try.

About these verses Rashi says,
you have selected; has selected you ~ Heb. הֶאמִיר‏ְ We do not find any equivalent expression in the Scriptures [which might give us a clue to the meaning of these words]. However, it appears to me that [the expression הֶאמִיר] denotes separation and distinction. [Thus, here, the meaning is as follows:] From all the pagan deities, you have set apart the Lord for yourself, to be your God, and He separated you to Him from all the peoples on earth to be His treasured people. 
Conclusion? I think Rashi would agree with me.

Lesson? Choose Judaism, choose your path (if it's not Judaism, then, choose what makes your heart sing, just do it with all of your heart and soul), and you'll be chosen in return.

Shabbat Shalom!